Project Details Updating, Piloting, and Disseminating Educational Material for Raising Awareness of the Multiple Uses of Chemicals and the Chemical Weapons Convention

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 July 2013
End Date:
31 July 2018
Division Name:
Committee on Chemistry Education
Division No.:


(a) To substantially update interactive, web-based educational materials created under IUPAC Project 2005-029-1-050 to support education and outreach efforts with respect to the multiple uses of chemicals and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC);

(b) to pilot these new materials with chemistry educators and OPCW National Authorities and model engaging ways in which they can be used with target audiences; and

(c) to use the creation and dissemination of these materials to continue to strengthen the working relationship between OPCW and IUPAC over education and outreach with respect to multiple uses of chemicals and the CWC.


This project builds on the success of previous collaborations between IUPAC and OPCW over scientific aspects of chemical weapons and education and outreach with respect to multiple uses of chemicals and the CWC. The need for peer-reviewed educational materials was identified as a significant outcome of the 2005 Oxford OPCW-IUPAC workshop, attended by both of the present task group chairs. IUPAC project 2005-029-1-050 was completed to create an initial set of web-based materials to be used by educators and students. This resulted in the production of the resources at <> or The approach taken was to start with the beneficial uses of chemicals, give examples of the misuse and abuse of chemicals, and then provide basic information about the Chemical Weapons Convention, ending with the need for and examples of existing codes of conduct. Further details are contained in four papers (translated into 6 UN languages) on multiple uses of chemicals, chemicals- good and bad, the toxicology of chemical warfare agents, and the prevention of chemical weapons. Despite technical issues that led to the loss of links from the IUPAC web site, the site continues to be accessed by over 25,000 unique visitors each year from over 80 countries.

To continue to support education and outreach, OPCW recently appointed a Temporary Working Group (TWG) on Education and Outreach to advise the Scientific Advisory Board on sustainable activities that can be pursued by both OPCW and its member states with respect to the CWC. The TWG, consisting of 12 experts in education and chemical weapons (member listing in Appendix I), has met twice, and presented the existing materials interactively to the OPCW National Authorities, meeting in plenary session at its November 2012 meeting in the Hague. Following very positive feedback, TWG has recommended that the existing multiple uses of chemicals materials be updated. The TWG will participate in reviewing the materials, making suggestions for how they can best be updated, and help to draft new written resources. The TWG has requested that updating of materials be carried out as a new joint OPCW-IUPAC project. The task group proposes four phases.

Phase 1 – Draft Materials: Review of existing multiple uses materials and updating content as well as format to ensure that the resources are engaging and up to date. Since the initial IUPAC Project, several scientific issues have emerged that need to be addressed in educational materials, including the convergence of biology and chemistry – For example, synthetic biology can now be used to create lethal materials. The new materials will also model for educators how they can engage target audiences, including demonstration video from the pilot in Phase 2.

Phase 2 – Piloting and Assessing Draft Materials: Pilot the new interactive resources at a special workshop for chemistry educators at the IUPAC Congress in Istanbul in August 2013. The workshop has been approved by the Congress organizers. During that pilot, video will be recorded of interactive and engaging approaches that can be used to convey material to educators, for subsequent dissemination as part of the new web materials. A written evaluation will be carried out at the end of the workshop by participants, and project task group members present in Istanbul will meet to review the feedback.

Phase 3 – Revisions and Finalization of Materials: Feedback from the Istanbul workshop pilot will be used to refine and finalize the materials, following which they will be revised and disseminated through both IUPAC and OPCW networks. External partners will be sought, as was the case with the initial IUPAC project, for translation of a portion of the resources into UN official languages.

Phase 4 – Dissemination through OPCW and IUPAC: The finalized material will be used with OPCW National Authorities following the next meeting of the TWG, and with chemistry educators at a workshop held at the 5th IUPAC Conference on Green Chemistry in Durban, South Africa in 2014. The Sustainable/Green Chemistry community is a strategic target, as it has to date, not significantly taken on education and outreach related to the multiple uses of chemicals, yet the topic resonates exceptionally well with the principles that have brought this community together. 2014 is also the centenary of the 1st World War, providing additional opportunities to disseminate and publicize the updated materials.


Nov 2013 update – Phase 1 to 3 of this project have been successfully completed. The interactive web materials, developed through this joint project of the OPCW and IUPAC, were created by the students and faculty at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Edmonton, Canada, working closely with members of OPCW’s Education and Outreach working group, and OPCW staff and its Scientific Advisory Board. In addition to providing interactive resources, a second goal of the joint project is to model ways in which information about the multiple uses of chemicals and the Chemical Weapons Convention, can be presented in engaging and interactive ways. Project Task Force co-leaders Alastair Hay and Peter Mahaffy piloted the new interactive materials with chemists and educators at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in Turkey in August, 2013. The interactive session, which included role playing about making choices about the use of chemicals, was filmed professionally by OPCW. Excerpts of the footage will be available on the website, to help educators and other communicators see how audiences can be engaged with the new materials.

On 26 November 2013, OPCW released a news announcing the update release of the educational materials; see


Nov 2015 update – The materials have been used as the centrepiece of workshops in several international contexts, including the IUPAC Green Chemistry Conference in Durban (2014), and the ACS Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington DC (2015). The interactive session from the IUPAC Congress in Turkey, which was professionally filmed by OPCW staff, is now available as a link on the website, by navigating to the Video link on the main menu bar. The site is also now profiled on the OPCW web site under Resources for Students and Teachers. (
Work by the project team continues on translating the site into OPCW official languages, and exploring enhanced roles for educational resources on multiple uses of chemicals to support OPCW’s education and outreach efforts.

Recent publications highlighting the Multiple Uses Resources

The May 2014 issue of Chemistry in Australia features the resources in an article: From Chemical Warfare to Peace (, May 2014, pp. 16-19

A feature article titled “Multiple Uses of Chemicals – IUPAC and OPCW working toward responsible science” has been published in Chemistry International Sep-Oct 2014, pp. 9-13;

Multiple Uses of Chemicals: A Set of Interactive Electronic Resources on the Responsible Use of Chemicals for Secondary and Tertiary Audiences, by P. Mahaffy, J. Zondervan, A. Hay, D. Feakes, and J. Forman (2015). Special Edition – Chemistry Teaching and Learning, at secondary and tertiary levels of education and between them, European Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Education Network Newsletter, 16(1) February, 2015. <>


August 2016 update – The task group met in Kuching during ICCE 2016. With the support of OPCW and the participation of Jonathan Forman (OPCW representative on IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education CCE), a full day symposium on Multiple Uses/the CWC/ and Responsible Science was organized as part of ICCE 2016. While reviewing the multiple uses resources <> with others on CCE, it has become apparent that additional content should be added and revised. Since the initial drafting of materials, this major initiative to generate the Hague Ethical Guidelines has been completed, which IUPAC has now endorsed. There was a strong feeling from participants at the session in Kuching that the Hague Ethical Guidelines should be included as a final update to Multiple Uses, along with a few other updates and revisions, such as on the convergence between chemistry and biology. The resources currently end with codes of conduct and ethical guidelines, and they will be completed once the task group finalize and post the section on Ethical Guidelines agreed on in the Hague. 


July 2018 update – The Multiple Uses of Chemicals website <> has now gone live in all six official OPCW languages -Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish-, with support from the European Union through the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In August, 2013, following a recommendation from the OPCW Temporary Working Group on Education and Outreach, a joint IUPAC/OPCW project in partnership with the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science (KCVS) created a new interactive website to model engaging ways of presenting material on choices and responsible use of chemicals. The site helps scientists, students, and the public think about the choices they make with respect to the use of chemicals. Using case studies, questions, and role playing, the interactive materials start with the beneficial uses of chemicals, and then lead users through examples of the misuse and abuse of chemicals. The site ends with introducing the Chemical Weapons Convention, which represents an example of choices made by nations to work for peace. Students and educators, policymakers, and the general public are invited, through different portals, to explore what is being done to monitor the abuse of multi-use chemicals and to discover the responsibilities of both scientists and the public in responding to the misuse of chemicals, such as in the production of chemical weapons. The content on the site has also been updated to include topical examples such as opiates and fentanyl, and the concept of therapeutic index, using caffeine and propofol as examples. The Hague Ethical Guidelines were also added to the section on responsible choices in chemistry, and the section on the convergence of chemistry and biology was updated.

Project completed

October 2018 update – Project website updates and translations announced in CI Oct 2018, p. 32;

Page last updated: 8 Nov 2018